Thinking differently about investing in rural youth
Investments are urgently needed to help rural youth become more productive, connected and in charge of their own futures. But in a fast-changing world, we must also invest in solutions that address today’s challenges. And we need to put the needs of youth in a larger context.
If rural opportunities are scarce because there has been little rural transformation, investments focused on youth alone are unlikely to provide sustainable benefits. We need to foster rural transformation for all. Everyone, including youth, needs to be more productive, better connected and more able to direct their own destiny.
Youth have special needs. They may have difficulty in becoming employees or entrepreneurs in existing value chains. They may be short of land to produce commercial crops. And they may lack finance to start nonfarm businesses. Here, youth-specific investments can help overcome specific constraints.
Balancing investments that promote widespread rural opportunity and those that focus specifically on youth opportunity
What is holding youth back? Are there particular individual or family constraints? What can we do about them now, and later?
For example, to adapt to climate change, producers may need access to low-cost mobile technology. This will help them access rapidly updated information on the web. But this new generation of young producers will also need cognitive and other skills to interpret the data and know how best to respond.
To build an effective response we need multiple investments, delivered at the right times. On the one hand, these investments might support collecting and collating climate change information and providing infrastructure. On the other, they might target education and extension systems to strengthen cognitive and non-cognitive skills. A holistic approach will help youth adapt themselves to become increasingly productive in a world of continuous change.
Read SECTION G
Embedding rural youth policy and investments in broader rural development strategies